“When people in a democracy are not educated in the art of living — to strengthen their conscience, compassion, and ability to question and think critically — they can be easily manipulated by fear and propaganda. A democracy is only as wise as its citizens, and a democracy of ignorant citizens can be as dangerous as a dictatorship.”
Paul K. Chappell is the son of a Korean mother and a half African American and half Caucasian father whose thirty years of military service included combat duty in Korea and Vietnam. Following in his father´s military footsteps, Chappell graduated from West Point in 2002 and served as a captain in Iraq.
While on active duty, Chappell wrote two books, Will War Ever End?: A Soldier’s Vision of Peace for the 21st Century and The End of War: How Waging Peace Can Save Humanity, Our Planet, and Our Future. He is also the author of Peaceful Revolution: How We Can Create the Future Needed for Humanity’s Survival (February, 2012).
After leaving active duty in November 2009, he began serving as the Peace Leadership Director for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara, CA. He speaks throughout the country to colleges, high schools, veterans groups, churches, and activist organizations.
Chappell´s books offer compelling insights on how we might end war. Based on his personal experience, military training, and research into human nature and the myths that perpetuate war, Chappell avoids blaming any particular political group; his ideas have found traction with liberals, conservatives, veterans, and civilians.
It’s too simple to say that Chappell is a soldier turned peace leader. Growing up in a violent household in Alabama, his character was forged by violence, rage, and racism. Chappell´s struggle with war and peace began when he was four and his shell-shocked father started beating him. Chappell grew up believing that humans are by nature violent and that war is inevitable. As a cadet at West Point, he learned that neither of these is true. And as a soldier in Iraq, he decided to dedicate his life to helping others understand why.
Chappell believes that peace activists should be highly trained in the art of waging peace, just as soldiers are highly trained for war. He offers “peace leadership training” that educates and empowers students and people of all ages to create positive change, and he believes – like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and James Lawson – that many of the warrior ideals are vital for a nonviolent campaign to be effective. These warrior ideals include courage, discipline, determination, resilience, strategic thinking, selflessness, teamwork, and working for the common good rather than personal glory.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu said of Chappell’s second book, “Captain Paul K. Chappell has given us a crucial look at war and peace from the unique perspective of a soldier, and his new ideas show us why world peace is both necessary and possible in the 21st century. The End of War can help people everywhere understand why war must end, and how together we can end it.”
Despite the many problems occurring around us, Chappell believes that the 21st century is an exciting and hopeful era when a new “peaceful revolution” has the potential to reduce war and injustice around the world. He says, “The peaceful revolution is a revolution of mind, heart, and spirit. But it is also a scientific revolution… The peaceful revolution will create a paradigm shift that changes how we see war, peace, our responsibility to the planet, our kinship with each other, and what it means to be human.”
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